2021 Rights Guide
THE ART OF SOLITUDE
Yale University Press (editor Jennifer Banks), February 2020
Sold to: Urano (Spanish language); Vis-a-Vis Etiuda (Poland); Steinrich (Germany); Farol (Portugal); Uknow (Korea); Suan Nguen Mee Ma (Thailand); Gryphus (Brazil)
This is Stephen Batchelor’s quest for the essence of solitude, the elusive state that resides within us. His journey, told in 32 short chapters, reflects on the experiential, the philosophical, the contemplative, and medical realms. Batchelor travels the life and journals of Montaigne, the paintings of Vermeer, the deep meditative practice of jhana, ceremonies centered upon peyote and ayahuasca, and a lifelong reflection on the meaning of the Buddhism. Is it possible to achieve solitude by being alone? Can one actually clear the mind of thoughts to be truly solitary? Does the act of writing intrude on a solitary state? Might it be that to be solitary one must be in the company of others? Inspiration comes from the Buddhist poem Four Eighths, which Batchelor translated, also told in 32 verses. Resting on a lifetime of contemplation and experience, Batchelor began this pursuit of The Art of Solitude at the close of his sixtieth year.
Stephen Batchelor is the author of numerous classical works of Buddhist thought, including The Faith to Doubt, Buddhism Without Beliefs, Living with the Devil, Verses from the Center, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, A Secular Buddhism, and After Buddhism. He has been ordained as a Buddhist monk, later trained in the Songgwangsa Monastery in South Korea, was co-founder of the Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemplative Enquiry, and a Guiding Teacher at Gaia House. He is also a contributing editor to Tricycle Magazine.
“With his long experience of Buddhism, meditation, and teaching it is hard to think of anyone better equipped to write about the art of solitude than Stephen Batchelor.”
“In this exquisite contemplation on solitude that is intimate, brave, and wise, Batchelor brings us to the vast center of his life and realization.”
— Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
“The Art of Solitude is a marvel. Carefully constructed yet entirely original, it sings with a haunting melody of wistful contemplation. Reading it is a true joy.”
—Mark Epstein, MD
RADICAL COMPASSION: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN
Viking (editor Laura Tisdel), January 2020
Sold to: Rider (UK); Droemer (Germany); Belfond (France); Bulkwang (Korea); Urano (Spanish); Kosmos (Netherlands); Exmo (Russia); Lúa y Papel (Portugal); Roi (Italy); Oak Tree (Chinese Complex); Omega (Turkey); Seiwa Shoten (Japan)
One of the most loved and trusted mindfulness teachers in America today, Tara Brach, author of the celebrated Radical Acceptance offers a roadmap for systematically awakening compassion when we need it the most – in the thick of daily life, when we’re stressed, anxious, angry, terrified, or numb and cut off from our heart. The key tool is RAIN, an easy to learn four-step meditation that you can start using today. RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture) come to life as Tara shares memorable stories of working with students as the face feelings of overwhelm, loss, and self-aversion, painful relationships, and past trauma. RAIN nourishes the inner resources that allow you to live true to yourself and to actively care for others. At a time when so many feel uncertain about the future, threatened by the dividedness, hatred, violence and greed that dominate our daily news, Radical Compassion offers a courageous pathway that can evolve our consciousness, and bring more love into the world.
Tara Brach, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned teacher of mindfulness, meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening. She is the author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge, and her weekly podcasted talk and meditation is downloaded over a million and a half times each month. She is the founder of Insight Meditation Center of Washington, DC, one of the largest and most dynamic meditation centers in the US.
“Tara Brach has an uncanny ability to home in precisely on what we need in the moment, so we can meet that need from within. She teaches a simple but life changing practice to bring presence and compassion to any moment of shame or longing or struggle, transforming our pain into love. This book is a treasure from one of the most important spiritual teachers of our time.”
— Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion
“A powerful book that will free you from shame, fear, and negative self-beliefs. You will feel wiser, happier, and kinder after reading it.”
— Haemin Sunim, author of Love for Imperfect Things and The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down
“In this magnificent synthesis of her important teachings in cultivating compassion in our everyday lives, Tara Brach, offers us a life-changing tool to open our awareness with love and healing. This important book is as practical as it is profound, a deep and lasting gift for us all.”
— Daniel J. Siegel, M.D author of Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence and Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human
“Radical Compassion lays out a path of straightforward, accessible practices grounded in both modern brain science and ancient wisdom – with the soul and depth you’d expect from a world-class meditation teacher and psychologist. A masterpiece.”
— Rick Hanson, Ph.D. author of Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness
“Tara Brach’s four-step RAIN meditation can be an integral part of anyone’s mindfulness practice. RAIN helps us uncover the states of love, self-care, forgiveness, compassion, and tenderness we each are capable of. It is a useful and elegant system, and Radical Compassion is a beautifully written book.”
— Sharon Salzberg, New York Times bestselling author of Real Happiness and Lovingkindness
RADICAL ACCEPTANCE: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha
Ballantine Books (editor Marnie Cochran), 2003, paperback 2005
Sold to: Droemer (Germany; Belfond (France); Kosmos (Holland): Rider (UK); Oak Tree Publishing (Chinese Complex); Huaxia (Chinese Simplified);Alfaomega (Spain & Latin America); Bulkwang (Korea); BIS SRL/Macro Edizioni (Italy); Basam Books (Finland); Grup Media Litera SRL (Romania); Fontana Esotera (Czech Republic); Exmo (Russia); Vexta (Bulgaria); Ursus Libris (Hungary); Sextante (Brazil); Lúa y Papel (Portugal); Omega (Turkey); Samgha (Japan) ; Vista (Poland)
In her perennially bestselling classic RADICAL ACCEPTANCE (over a half-million copies sold) Tara Brach, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, brings Buddhism and Western psychology together to uncover how suffering arises from the ‘shadow emotions’ of the psyche. She deals practically and lovingly with the role of compassion in transforming parts of ourselves that we have rejected. Ultimately, this Buddhist approach of embracing the world in all of its emotional messiness, beauty, and mystery is key to pursuing a genuine path of awakening.
OLD SEEMS TO BE OTHER PEOPLE
Penguin Random House Australia (Nikki Christer) May 2021; Suhrkamp Verlag, July 2020
English language ms. available
Lily Brett’s collection of essays on growing older is based on a series published by the popular German magazine Brigitte WIR over the course of 2016 to 2019, with the final piece published this summer by FAZ (Frankfurter Allegmeine Zeitung) bringing the work into the current covid climate. The book has an immediate Der Spiegel non-fiction bestseller with Suhrkamp’s publication in July. Told with Lily Brett’s inimitable elegance, and absurdist humor, this is a series of everyday life sketches of a person growing older, mostly in set in New York City, the site of what has become the author’s home over more than three decades. The confluence of the era of corona virus with a newfound perspective of the human span of life make this a book for our times.
Lily Brett is the author of poems, essays, and many novels, the most well-known being TOO MANY MEN, CHUZPE, and LOLA BENSKY, all autobiographically rooted in the stories of immigration of her parents after surviving the Holocaust, told always with dark humor and compassion. Her works are regular bestsellers in Germany, and in her native Australia. The French edition of LOLA BENSKY was the winner of the Prix Médicis Étranger. CHUZPE has been released as a tv movie in Germany and was a theatrical production directed by Otto Schenk. TOO MANY MEN has been optioned as a feature film by Kings & Queens Productions, slated to star Mandy Patinkin and Lena Dunham.
PICK UP THE PIECES: Excursions in Seventies Music
University of Chicago Press (editorSusan Bielstein), 2019
Music critic John Corbett, renowned DownBeat magazine columnist, gives us his own curation of the music of the seventies. In this his year-by-year chronicle, Corbett intersperses recollections of early personal high points, with selections that have evolved with the maturation of time. In this astute and passionate assemblage, Corbett witnesses the musical novelty and fusion of a decade, portraying how its music continues to come of age today in terms of race, gender, and class, with ongoing resonance.
John Corbett is the author most recently of Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium, preceded by A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation; Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein; Microgroove: Forays into Other Music. He is the curator of the Alton Abraham Sun Ra Archive; an excerpt from PICK UP THE PIECES, ‘Sun Ra City,’ appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly. He is co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey art gallery in Chicago.
THE SCAR: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery
W.W. Norton (editor Jill Bialosky), 2019
Sold to: Lilliput (UK); Jihaksa Publishing (Korea); OkuyanUS (Turkey)
THE SCAR is a history – personal, social, and literary – of the experience of depression playing out over a life. The author’s acute illness surfaced in her 20’s, more than 30 years ago, triggered after she gave birth to a child who died of congenital heart failure. This is an account of facing an illness never spoken of in her Irish Catholic family, the fright of hospitalization, shock treatment, medication, and the imperfection of recovery. Powerfully and beautifully told, the author considers her story in the context of a larger history, encompassing what has changed in science, treatment, and social recognition of depression, and what still remains after the scar was formed in the navigation of life. THE SCAR fits into the market established by Andrew Solomon’s Noonday Demon, Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac, and Kay Redfield Jamison’s Night Falls Fast.
Mary Cregan has taught English literature at Barnard College for over 20 years (specializing in the Modern Victorian Novel, Virginia Woolf, and Irish Literature). Her writing has appeared in The Chronicle for Higher Education, and The Financial Times.
“Written matter-of-factly, without recourse to melodrama or a facile assigning of blame, Mary Cregan explores the roots of her own depression and hospitalization with a candor that is all the more effective because it is set against an informed historical overview of the treatment of mental illness…Cregan offers a story that is both singular and representative of all the sufferers who live with the horror of depression or melancholia… The Scar will make you think differently about this condition and its debilitating effects, bringing out into the light a disease that has all too often been shrouded in stigma and shame.”
— Daphne Merkin, author of This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression
“What makes [this] book stand out is the sheer clarity of the writing, the personal fragility and the wrestling with demons emerging with a kind of grace, a hard-won heroism.”
— Colm Tóibín
“THE SCAR reaches beyond its immediate subject to provide a cultural and historical context for that most mysterious of afflictions, ‘depression’ – or, in more Romantic terms, ‘melancholia’ – making it particularly valuable at the present time.”
— Joyce Carol Oates
PHIL’S ERRAND: A Union Hero’s Secret Mission Against White Supremacist ‘Banditti’ Militias and the Civil War After the Civil War
HarperCollins (editor Jonathan Jao), 2021
Ms. due September 2021
Robert Cwiklik captures here an unsung story of the Reconstruction Period of US history, the post-Civil War experiment in multi-racial democracy that proved formative for political and racial climates in the US today. In 1874, when Civil War hero General Phil Sheridan swept into the Charles Hotel in New Orleans, it was on a secret mission, calling for the arrest of leaders of the White League, for waging a “banditti” war against former slaves. This intervention was perhaps President Grant’s last resort to maintain order in the tenuous Reconstruction project. What ensued was a failure has become a chapter in US, and one that continues to surface in our current political reality.
Robert Cwiklik served as an editor at the Wall Street Journal for 16 years, and helped launch Al-Monitor, a website devoted to Middle East news. He is also the author of House Rules: A Freshman Congressman’s Initiation to the Backslapping, Backpedalling, and Backstabbing Ways of Washington (Random House), as well as several books for children.
THE ZEN OF THERAPY: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life
Penguin Press (editor Ann Godoff), January 2022
Options: Hay House (UK); Alta (Brazil); Hanmunhwa (Korea); La Llave (Spain)
Sold to: Curtea Veche (Romania)
Psychiatrist Mark Epstein is renowned for weaving his understanding of Buddhist thought and practice into his writing (Thoughts Without a Thinker, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, The Trauma of Everyday Life, Advice Not Given) and into his work as a Western practitioner of psychotherapy. A student of meditation well before his immersion into medical school, he has long believed that meditation as a goal-oriented practice – whether to calm the mind, relax the body, or achieve a transcendental experience – can be antithetical to meditation’s greater purpose. Meditation, if it is truly to help, Dr. Epstein affirms, needs to be engaged as an art rather than a science, a tool that can help us explore the hidden aspects of individual experience. In The Zen of Therapy he guides the reader through a full year of selected sessions of his medical practice. By living example, he explores how the trust and intimacy of the psychotherapeutic relationship, exhibiting how meditation can come alive in today’s world.
Mark Epstein, M.D. is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of numerous books on the relation between Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Advice Not Given, The Trauma of Everyday Life, Thoughts Without a Thinker, and others. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University and is currently Clinical Assistant Professor in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University.
“Mark Epstein’s Advice Not Given continues his important, fascinating work of ‘bridging the gap between psychotherapy and Buddhism’ in exceptionally lucid language. It also offers its readers a collection of fables, vignettes, and personal revelations with the true capacity to rearrange one’s perspective, even change one’s life. I suspect many of these offerings will stay with me for the long haul, for which I’m very grateful.”
— Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
“Most people will never find a great psychiatrist or a great Buddhist teacher, but Mark Epstein is both, and the wisdom he imparts in Advice Not Given is an act of generosity and compassion. The book is a tonic for the ailments of our time.”
— Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth
Roy Richard Grinker
NOBODY’S NORMAL: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness
W.W. Norton (editor Jill Bialosky), January 2021
Sold to: Mememto (Korea); Portal (Russia); Okuyanus (Turkey); Znak (Poland); TZYY (Chinese Simplified); Arquipélago (Brazil)
In NOBODY’S NORMAL, anthropologist Roy Richard chronicles the shift of stigma’s role in defining the mentally ill. This timely and compassionate work moves from the emergence of mental illness 18th century asylums, through public and military response during America’s major wars, and into integration with today’s high-tech economy. It is culture, he maintains, not science that holds the key to eradicating the shame and secretiveness surrounding mental illness. Grinker infuses the book with the personal history of four generations of family involvement in psychiatry, including his grandfather’s analysis with Freud, his own daughter’s experience with autism, and culminating in his research on neurodiversity. Drawing on cutting-edge science, historical archives, and cross-cultural research in Africa and Asia, Nobody’s Normal offers a path to end the shadow of stigma. The preeminent cultural historian of medicine, Sander Gilman, calls Nobody’s Normal, “the most important work on stigma in more than half a century.”
Roy Richard Grinker is Professor of anthropology at George Washington University, and Editor of the Anthropological Quarterly. He is the author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, for which he received the NAMI Ken Award for ‘outstanding contribution to the understanding of mental illness’; and In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin M. Turnbull. He is a two-time finalist for the Victor Turner Prize. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.
“Nobody’s Normal shows how a society’s needs and prejudices shape mental illness…The book sings with the empathetic and authoritative voice of Grinker.’
— NY Times Book Review
“Across 17 chapters that the span the rise of the asylum and the recent return of biological psychiatry, Grinker shows that norms are buttressed by complex, long-standing stigmas, particularly around sex and race, which aren’t in our biology, but in our culture.”
— Psychology Today
“Nobody’s Normal is an unusually interesting history of mental illness and the stigma attached to it…profoundly tied to the human condition.”
— Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind and Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire
“Richard Grinker explores the way stigma has coalesced around mental illness and assesses the cumulative harm done by depressed or psychotic patients’ sense of humiliation. Anyone hoping to ameliorate the crisis of mental illness will have to resolve this clinging shame…This book [provides] a guide [as] to how the problem might begin to be addressed, so that those who are ill bear only the burden of their illness itself.”
— Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree
“Roy Grinker’s remarkable history of psychiatry reveals how culture has stigmatised those who deviate from the pernicious illusion of normality. He reminds us that we will always need culture to fully understand those who think differently, and to reveal and resist stigma.”
— Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Cambridge University, Department of Psychiatry, author of Autism and Asperger Syndrome, and Zero Degrees of Empathy
“This landmark book could not be more timely, coming at the pivotal moment when our society is re-evaluating its most basic assumptions about mental illness and health. Grinker has produced a magisterial chronicle of the social and economic forces that conspired to classify a broad spectrum of behavior as ‘sick’ and in need of professional treatment. A must-read for anyone interested in psychology, anthropology, the social model of disability, or the complex nature of being human. Nobody’s Normal is a masterpiece.”
— Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
OF SOUND MIND: How the Sounds of Our Lives Shape Our Brains
MIT Press (editor Robert Prior), September 2021
Sold to: Commonwealth (Chinese Complex)
In her ground breaking work OF SOUND MIND Nina Kraus, Ph.D makes it known how hearing is the underappreciated sense. A neuroscientist who has spent more than 30 years studying the auditory system, Nina Kraus explores in accessible terms how the brain performs one of its most difficult functions — making sense of sound — and how vulnerable the brain is to what it hears.
We are guided to understand how the brain relates to the language we speak and hear, how the young brain’s shape changes as it relates to music, bilingualism, birdsong. We comprehend how disruptive noise, and concussion can have devastating effect on the brain. OF SOUND MIND will change the way we think about sound and how it cuts across our world. A relatable and fantastic book on sound and the brain, this is for readers of Oliver Sachs, Aniruddh Patel, and Daniel Levitin.
Nina Kraus, Ph.D. is Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology & Otolaryngology at Northwestern University, she has headed the Brainvolts Laboratory for more than three decades. Scientist, inventor, amateur musician, she was the first to show that the adult nervous system has the potential for reorganization with learning. Her work has appeared in Science, Nature, Neuron and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She has testified before the US Senate and Congress, and the US Dept. of Education on the importance of music education in brain health. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American. She has collaborated with opera singer Renée Fleming, NIH Director Francis Collins, and drummer Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.
“Nina Kraus is a brilliant communicator and Of Sound Mind is an engaging and entertaining read.”
— Renée Fleming, soprano
“A startling work, Nina Kraus makes the case that the world is sound.”
— Mickey Hart, Musicologist and drummer for The Grateful Dead
“A highly informative and clearly written book: Kraus’s enthusiasm for the understanding of the place of sound in our world is infectious. She shows us just how deeply sound, and in particular music, is intertwined in the brain with everything else that makes us who we are.”
— Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary
“One of the most beautiful, evocative, illumining books ever written about how what we hear shapes who we are. I never wanted this book to end.”
— Maryanne Wolf, author of Reader, Come Home and Proust & the Squid
“Fascinating, clarifying and personal—this simple to read, science-based description of hearing will change the way you listen. Bravo!”
— Gordon Hempton, author, One Square Inch of Silence
“This is really a book that only Kraus could write, but everyone should read. It will change the way we think about—and value—our sonic experiences,. From background noise and everyday sounds to spoken word and music, it’s all here and narrated beautifully.”
— Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music
“With eyes closed and not seeing, while exhaling and not smelling, we hear. Hearing never takes a break. So our relationship with sound is complicated, our brain filtering and selecting, turning the volume up and down, creating meaning and vivid memories. This is the best book I’ve seen about what sound is—and what sound means to us.”
— Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words and Becoming Wild
HOW TO THINK TALMUDICALLY: Advice for Modern Life from a Very Old Book
W.W. Norton (editor Amy Cherry), 2023
Proposal available; ms. due February 2022
Liel Leibovitz’s book on applying the wisdom of the Talmud to everyday life, comes from his popular newly launched podcast ‘Take One’ (over a million downloads to date) of Tablet Magazine, offering brief meditations from rabbis, teachers, artists, activists n the daily Talmud portion. In HOW TO THINK TALMUDICALLY, the book, a wise and appreciative storyteller, Leibovitz plucks from the treasures of ancient rabbinical legends and conundrums that remain infinitely sage, and brings them to everyday life, through stories and interviews of secular heroes, many of whom are encountered on his podcast. The book will be shaped around the great and age-old complexities of life – Death, Loss, Friendship, Family, Community, Maturity. The Talmud is after all, to put it in Leibovitz’s words, humanity’s first true self-help book.
Liel Leibovitz is most recently the author of Stan Lee: A Life in Comics, and many more, including a biography of Leonard Cohen A Broken Hallelujah; Lili Marlene — The Soldier’s Song of WW II; and Fortunate Son — The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization. He is a founding editor of Tablet Magazine, for which he writes a weekly column, and is a host of the hugely popular Unorthodox podcast (more than 7 million downloads) for with which he has traveled widely throughout the country and beyond.
MY MANHOOD: A Memoir
W.W. Norton (editor Amy Cherry), 2024
Proposal available; ms. due February 2023
MY MANHOOD is Liel Leibovitz’s own story, about becoming a man, a story that has required its own share of rabbinic wisdom. It begins with his own father, who believed more than anything in developing his only suo in his own image. He would teach him the importance of having the most hardened and essential masculine qualities, necessary for a supreme male life. Liel’s model of a father was the famed gun wielding, ‘motorcycle bandit’ who robbed banks and became an Israeli national hero. It was from here, that Liel began his journey to becoming a man in full.
A small portion (in different form) of what will become this memoir has been featured on ‘The Moth.’
PLAYBOOK: The Dream and Demise of a Theater for All Americans
Penguin Press (editor Will Heyward), 2025
Proposal available; ms. due February 2024
Sold to: Faber (UK, editor Alex Bowler)
James Shapiro, known for his acclaimed works on William Shakespeare (most recently Shakespeare in a Divided America), in PLAYBOOK looks at the role of politics in shaping American theater. In an exploration of longstanding political and cultural rifts in America, rooted in the 1930’s with the Federal Theatre Project as it came head-to-head with the Committee on un-American Activities, shows how battles over theater give voice to what is otherwise rarely debated so openly.
James Shapiro is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he teaches Shakespeare. He has received international acclaim for A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 (winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize The Year of Lear: 1606 (winner of the James Tait Black Prize), Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), and most recently Shakespeare in a Divided America (NY Tiimes 10 Best Books of the Year; National Book Critics Circle Finalist). His reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, and other publications. He is on the board of directors of The Royal Shakespeare Company, and advises productions for the Public Theatre in New York and other companies. Shapiro was a collaborator on Jacobean Genius, a series he hosted for the BBC and also hosted the BBC The Mysterious Mr. Webster. In 2012 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
SHAKESPEARE IN A DIVIDED AMERICA: What His Plays Tell Us about Our Past and Future
Penguin Press (editor Ann Godoff), March 2020
New York Times TOP 10 BOOKS of 2020
National Book Critic Circle Finalist 2020
Sold to: Faber (UK); Shanghai BBT (Chinese Simplified)
In Shakespeare in a Divided America, James Shapiro, renowned for A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 (Samuel Johnson Prize) and The Year of Lear: 1606 (James Tait Black Prize), addresses how the plays of Shakespeare have the capacity to get to the heart of human controversy. Over the course of American history, as matters of race, gender, and immigration have come to the forefront, legendary performances of Shakespeare’s plays serve as a barometer of our deepest national discord. Shapiro, a foremost American contemporary authority on Shakespeare, leads us through historic performances that include Othello, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Twelfth Night, showing Shakespeare’s unique role in reflecting the underpinnings of history. From Ulysses S. Grant in the role of Desdemona (before he became commander of the Union army and President of the United States), to President John Quincy Adams’ disgust with Desdemona’s interracial marriage to Othello, to Paul Robeson as the first African American in the role of Othello in 1943, to Stephen Bannon’s collaborative film adaptation of Coriolanus set during the Rodney King riots, right up to the culmination of the 2017 production of Julius Caesar in Central Park, in which a Trump-like leader is assassinated.
“In two landmark books, James Shapiro explored the depth of Shakespeare’s engagement in the contested issues of his own time. Now, in the brilliantly conceived Shakespeare in a Divided America, Shapiro deftly demonstrates the playwright’s intimate presence in the culture and politics of the New World. From the racist anxieties focused on Othello in the 1830s to the bitter left-right divide focused on Julius Caesar in our own time, Shakespeare’s works have been uncannily central to our national imagination. This richly researched book is a continual revelation both about Shakespeare and about ourselves.”
—Stephen Greenblatt, author of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
“James Shapiro excels at bringing Shakespeare’s works and worlds to life for our time. Now, in this fascinating book, he ingeniously explores how unending disagreements over the plays illuminate our national past as well as the present. Selecting powerful stories where history and literature meet, he spares his readers none of America’s violent passions — or Shakespeare’s.”
— Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University and author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
W.W. Norton (editor Julia Reidhead,) 2023
Proposal available; full ms. due November 2022
Sold to: Ambo Anthos (Netherlands)
Perhaps best known for his bestselling ISLAND OF THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, where Russell Shorto reveals the island of Manhattan to be an outpost of Dutch Enlightenment with its origins of tolerance and free trade, he now brings us TAKING MANHATTAN, marking a new force in history that begins with the entrance of the British. With the British takeover of New Netherland in 1664, what is about to become New York (and later the whole of the 13 colonies and eventually the United States) will become forever tied to the British global push for power, which not incidentally includes the launching of the slave trade. Alongside the spirit of diversity and to the seeds of capitalism that launched New Netherland, the British quest for power and trade would ‘fuse into the nation’s soul.’
Russell Shorto will continue to bring the lives of the seventeenth century inhabitants of Manhattan into being through his access to the early Dutch records that are part of the ongoing translation project, that has become a national treasure of the New Netherlands Research Center, an endeavor of more than 12,000 pages. Russell Shorto’s increasingly layered and complex reading of history, acquires new urgency as its consequences surface in our present.
Russell Shorto is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Island at the Center of the World (to be a 2022 musical from the Dutch theatre company New Productions). He is most recently the author of Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob, as well as Revolution Song: The Story of America’s Founding in Six Remarkable Lives; Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City; and Descartes’ Bones. He writes regularly for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and many other publications.
SMALLTIME: A Story of My Family and the Mob
W.W. Norton (editor Julia Reidhead), February 2021
Sold to: Ambo Anthos (The Netherlands)
Bestselling author Russell Shorto, known for his incisive works of narrative history, now brings us SMALLTIME, the story of the small-ltime mafia, based in his own hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where his grandfather and namesake was a small-town mob boss. This is at once a family story, and a vital immigrant story of the smalltime mafia that wove through small town America. This history travels back to Risorgimento, Sicily, the hill-town home of the author’s great grandfather, who leaves his wife and children in grinding poverty to find a new life in a Pennsylvania mining town. In this portrait of a mobster, Russell the mafia boss rises from a life of squalor and prejudice to sudden riches, in a life of lawlessness that takes its toll on one family.
Shorto’s investigation lies not only in the local police documentation and newspaper accounts (which involves documentation of a related murder), but to a greater extent includes his father Tony, the mobster’s son who becomes the author’s partner in research. Secrets unfold as Tony’s health deteriorates, and the book evolves into an urgent and intimate exploration of three generations of immigrant experience, a story of fathers and sons. This is an irresistible memoir by a masterful writer of historical narrative.
“Great history mixed with lovely, lingering memories… Russell Shorto’s SMALLTIME draws a convincing portrait of a time when Italian Americans weren’t permitted to live in certain neighborhoods or rise too high in the political firmament. This remembrance of his grandfather’s and great uncle’s lives – of slots and pinball machines and places like the Melodee Lounge and City Cigar — mixes great history and lovely, lingering memories: ‘Long conversations about spaghetti sauce and aunts who kissed you on the lips: those were the ways we were Italian.’”
— Francis Ford Coppola
“Shorto tells us the story of a small-town, small-time mob but, much more than that, the story of an American family over three generations. By turns tender, poignant, and unsparing.”
— Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd
“Russell Shorto is a magnificent writer and SMALLTIME is a delicious story. A world so vividly rendered, you will find it hard to leave.”
— Adriana Trigiani, author of Tony’s Wife
“SMALLTIME is a big pleasure—an emotionally astute, deeply personal work of family and cultural history.”
— Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers and Mrs. Fletcher
“Russell Shorto, one of our most celebrated narrative historians, is expert at mining history for fascinating gems, but here it’s as if he breaks through into his own heart.”
— Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name
ONE BLADE OF GRASS: On the Old Road of the Heart, A Zen memoir
Counterpoint (editor: Jack Shoemaker), 2019
Sold to: Hodder (UK)
In this memoir, award-winning poet and novelist Henry Shukman writes of his journey to becoming a teacher of Zen Buddhism—from leaving his childhood, academic home in Oxford, England, to being a nomadic writer, to evolving a contemplative practice, to settling into life in New Mexico, where today he heads the Mountain Cloud Zen Center. It is a journey that reconciles mind and heart, as well as the physical healing; Shukman’s life changes radically through meditation, bringing him toward recovery from the depression and anxiety and the chronic eczema afflicted him since childhood, integrating into a spiritual awakening.
Henry Shukman, poet (In Dr. No’s Garden; Archangel) and novelist (The Lost City; Mortimer of Maghreb), is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Avron Poetry Prize, Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize, and Times Literary Supplement Prize, his work named by the Guardian and The Times (London) as a Book of the Year. His work has been praised by Peter Mattheissen, Pico Iyer, Natalie Goldberg, and Vikram Seth. Shukman is currently a contributing editor to Tricycle Magazine, as well as Outside, and the Guardian and Observer in the UK. His dharma talks reach over 4,000 followers in the Mountain Cloud Zen Center weekly podcast. He is also featured on StillnessSpeaks, the website hosting renowned spiritual teachers.
“So beautifully written, the reader immerses along with the author on his stumbling path to wholeness. In parts hilariously funny, I cannot say enough– I love this book.”
— Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and The Great Spring
“If you’ve ever wondered how a messed up kid like you or me might master the wisdom of Zen, [One Blade of Grass] is the adventure for you. It’s great company—and after reading it, you might recognize that you’re further along than you imagined.”
— David Hinton, author of Hunger Mountain
“… Lovely prose …This memoir will resonate most with readers wanting to understand the slow, rocky process of practicing Zen.”
— Publisher’s Weekly
READER, COME HOME: The Reading Brain in a Digital World
HarperCollins (editor Gail Winston), August 2018; paperback September 2019
Sold to: Penguin (Germany); Intershift (Japan); Across Publishing (Korea); Koc University Press (Turkey); Vita e Pensiero (Italy); Contexto (Brazil); CITIC (Chinese Simplified); Business Weekly Publishing (Chinese Complex); Deusto/Planeta (Spanish); Viena Ediciones (Catalan); AST (Russia); Naklada Ljevak (Croatia); Host vydavatelství (Czech); Cankarjeva založba (Slovenia)
A decade ago, Maryanne Wolf ’s now seminal work Proust and the Squid unraveled the tangled story of how the human brain learned to read and how reading has transformed our thoughts and emotions as a species. As society becomes increasingly dependent on digital reading, however, fissures are appearing in our most sophisticated cognitive and emotional processes affecting critical analysis, empathy, and contemplation. Many lament that their former capacity to be immersed in reading itself has changed. The evidence for these changes and what they portend for the quality of our thought and the intellectual development of the next generation are the critical, timely subjects of Reader, Come Home. Will the next generation, adept in rapid multitasking and quick access to multiple sources of knowledge, fail to fully develop their own “slower,” more cognitively demanding, deep reading processes, such as inferential reasoning, perspective-taking, and insight? Inspired by research in neuroscience, literature and philosophy, Wolf engages the reader in a series of letters that depict her concerns about what is happening to the brain as it adapts to digital mediums. Reader, Come Home presents a clarion call for understanding the complex impact of technology on the reading brain and what this could mean for the future of humankind.
Maryanne Wolf is the Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, the Chapman University Presidential Fellow, and the former John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. She is the recipient of multiple research honors, including the highest awards by the International Dyslexia Association, the Australian Learning Disabilities Association, The Dyslexia Foundation, and the highest teaching awards from the Massachusetts and the American Psychological Associations. She is the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, Tales of Literacy for the 21st Century, and more than 160 scientific publications. She is one of the founding members of Curious Learning, a global literacy initiative that helps teach children to read, particularly in remote regions of the world.
“In this profound and well-researched study of our changing reading patterns, Wolf presents lucid arguments for teaching our brain to become all-embracing in the age of electronic technology. If you call yourself a reader and want to keep on being one, this extraordinary book is for you.”
— Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading and A Reader on Reading
“Wolf is sober, realistic, and hopeful, an impressive trifecta. Her core message: We can’t take reading too seriously. And for us, today, how seriously we take it, will mark of the measure of our lives.”
— Sherry Turkle, author of The Empathy Diaries and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age; Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science, MIT
“A love song to the written word, a brilliant introduction to the science of the reading brain and a powerful call to action. With each page, Wolf brilliantly shows us why we must preserve deep reading for ourselves and sow desire for it within our kids. Otherwise we risk losing the critical benefits for humanity that come with reading deeply to understand our world.”
— Lisa Geurnsey, coauthor Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screen
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FIGHTING FOR RECOVERY: A People’s History of Mental Health Reform
Beacon (editor Amy Caldwell), March 2022
Ms.due June 2021
FIGHTING FOR RECOVERY is a history of mental health reform, centering on grassroots activism led by patients and their families, and great leaps in brain science and research in the past half century. Phyllis Vine’s involvement in the story stems from her own personal encounter with the treatment of mental illness, in her brother’s diagnosis with and treatment for schizophrenia. Vine’s sensitivity and focus on the human beings that drive this book make it a “people’s history” of mental health reform, in the spirit of Howard Zinn.
Phyllis Vine is a founding member of NAMI-New York State and MIWatch.org, an aggregate of information on mental illness, and has served on the Carter Center’s annual Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Symposium. She was awarded the 2017 Logan Fellowship from the Carey Institute for Global Good for her work on FIGHTING TO RECOVER. Vine was previously a professor of American History at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of One Man’s Castle: Clarence Darrow in Defense of The American Dream (HarperCollins) and Families in Pain (Pantheon).
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